A LEADING Bucks freemason has pledged to do more to help the needy in society after taking up his new role in the Marlow-based organisation.

Mike Stimson has taken up the position of deputy head of the 21 lodges and ten chapters based at the Masonic Centre in St Peter Street.

The 66-year-old said his responsibility lies with helping residents and organisations in the tough financial climate by channelling the group’s charitable funds to where they are most needed.

He said: "Charity is one of the three main masonic principles, along with friendship and decency, so I owe it to the 3500 freemasons in Bucks to make sure their money is invested wisely.

"Headlines suggest the economy is gradually improving but there are many hundreds of people in our area who are facing a real struggle to make ends meet.

"Our donors, ordinary freemasons, are also facing reduced real incomes so squaring the circle is a significant challenge.

"My priority therefore is to ensure our two local masonic charities are operating as efficiently as they can do, getting the maximum benefit to beneficiaries as soon as is reasonably possible."

Mr Stimson, a mason since 1975, takes over from Clifford Drake, 67, who spent eight years in the voluntary but virtually full-time role.

The fire safety consultant hopes to increase the amount given to worthy causes throughout the county through his chairmanship of the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund and the Bucks Masonic Benevolent Fund.

The centenary fund pledges money to community project, while the benevolent fund gives financial help to those facing a variety of personal problems, such as illness or bereavement.

The two Bucks funds which he will chair are independent of the freemasons’ Grand Charity, which works on a national level.

For more details freemasonry and how the groups helps the community, visit www.buckspgl.org